Neo-Liberalism is a political phenomenon that presumes adhering to economic liberalization at a state and public levels. In other words, to enrich a certain country its government supports the development of favourable business environment; and neo-liberalism is considered to lessen the interference of government into business world, which is supposed to facilitate economic growth. At the same time, the citizens are encouraged to adopt the principles of neo-liberalism as a part of their social identity. Stressing the core approaches that are used to encourage economic growth, it is necessary to point out that neo-liberalism is closely related to geopolitics. The comprehension of this fact is crucial for understanding the ways in which this phenomenon affects the local environment of certain state or the global environment. In this regard, one should acknowledge that neo-liberalism induces the transition from public property to private ownership with the aim to attract capital inflow. In addition, it suggests the creation of free trading zones. Moreover, neo-liberalism stipulates the growth of megalopolises, as well as the consolidation and enlargement of cities and towns (urbanization) that is subordinated to the goal of turning the assets and natural resources into capital. Furthermore, to assure the proper connection between the cities, and trading parties people construct more roots, which is subordinated to the purpose of increasing urban accessibility. Given the above-stated peculiarities of neo-liberalism, it is not surprising that this political phenomenon significantly changes the environment and, thus, encourages the emergence of the corresponding debates and new policies.
Viewing in details the impact of neo-liberalism on environment, it is appropriate to emphasize that the conversion of public property into private is characterized with the decreased governing role of the state bodies. Simply put, due to this phenomenon, a government limits its monitoring function; therefore, the businesses may be tempted to act unethically by harming the surrounding habitat while turning natural resources into capital. To mitigate this highly undesirable plausibility over the last decades the humanity has developed the concept of environmental sustainability, which has become an important part of business ethics. To be more precise, today, companies are expected to be reasonable while using natural resources. This necessity presumes adhering to the famous eco-friendly motto: ‘recycle, reduce, reuse’.
As it is seen, neo-liberalism induces the development of responsible co-existence with flora and fauna. In the contemporary world, this approach is a significant part of business’s ethical and philanthropic responsibility. Besides, strengthening environmental sustainability is considered to be the necessary condition for maintaining the financial one. Consider the case, being eco-friendly is an important way to maintain the responsibility towards community as the biggest group of stakeholders. Otherwise, if a company fails to perform in frames of eco-friendliness, it risks to lose its market share and, respectively, financial prosperity. In this way, the plausible negative implications of neo-liberalism are anticipated by corresponding legal and ethical regulations that are aimed at protecting the environment.
Nevertheless, the growing importance of environmental sustainability, as a part of corroborate social responsibility, does not completely solves the environmental hazards that are begot by the neo-liberalism. For example, one of the corresponding topical concerns is the impact of global trading that resulted in the emergence of the free trading zones. In particular, in spite of being implemented to provide new commerce opportunities to both developed and developing states, it is noticed to create considerable inequity, overuse of the workforce, and natural resources.
Besides, in terms of geopolitics, this trend contributes to the concentration of capital in certain areas. In means, that neo-liberalism induces the development of the unequal distribution of natural resources. What makes the things even worse is that it also suggests too intense and fast conversion of resources into capital, while, the reverse process (investing into nature conservation) is comparatively under-developed. Without doubt, the impact of free trading zones on environment should be seriously considered in order to avoid the irrational exploitation of natural resources.
Another important concern is the rapid urbanization. In these terms, the impact of neo-liberalism on environment is clear. Specifically, aiming to convert the natural resources of the suburbs into capital, the owners of property endanger the flora and fauna of that area. What is more, it is not surprising that urbanization leads to environmental pollution and fast draining of its resources. Therefore, urbanization, as a means of neo-liberalism, arouses reasonable concerns that are addressed by creation the green areas and other ways directed at nature protection.
A conjunctive issue is the necessity to assure the proper urban accessibility and good connection between trading centres. At first sight, the construction of terrestrial, sea, and air roots is loosely related to neo-liberalism; however, these tendencies are interwoven. In particular, economic globalization stipulates the improvement of connection between the parties that conduct business. Furthermore, the emergence of multinational corporations, as well as their ever-increasing magnitude presumes that the states need to be well-connected with each other in order to unable conducting business operations at the proper level. Therefore, it is not surprising that the construction of roots is one of the implications of neo-liberalism. In this regard, one should understand that the approach to enhance urban availability and facilitate global trading leads to the further endangerment of the environment. For instance, the construction of the new roots suggests eliminating wild nature in the chosen areas. Besides, more transport creates more pollution, not even talking about the increased consumption of natural resources that are consumed by the growing needs of the transportation industry. Consequently, it is appropriate to deduce that urban accessibility shapes the modern environment and, respectively, creates corresponding concerns.
In addition, the liberalization of economy presumes the transfer from public to private property. As a result, natural resources are being divided between concrete owners. Whereas, this approach is supposed to assure the maximization of profits obtained from nature assets, simultaneously, it means that certain individuals are deprived of the rights to enjoy the natural resources that are a part of someone’s property. Considering the polarization of the society (the increasing gap between poor and rich individuals) one can rightfully conclude that, in this way, most people are deprived of initially equal rights to enjoy their natural habitat to the fullest.
Summing up, it is necessary to stress that neo-liberalism is a political concept that refers to economic liberalization. Among the main ways through which this approach is accomplished are the fast-growing global urbanization, creation of the free trading zones, enhancement of urban accessibility, and transition from public to private property. These means of freeing up the economy are subordinated to the endeavour to convert natural resources into capital, as well as attract its inflow from other areas. Under such circumstances, people tend to create considerable threats to the nature dwellers, pollute environment, and drain resources. Given the above-mentioned, one can rightfully conclude that this political phenomenon shapes the today’s environment in a number of ways, most of which are negative. Therefore, the concept of environmental sustainability as a part of business ethics has gained popularity in the contemporary world. It is aimed at anticipating and mitigating the negative influence of neo-liberalism on the environment.
As it is known, capitalist markets are based on the three core principles. These are the availability of resources (workforce, capital, natural resources), private ownership, and the existence of two instances, one of which sells its labour (employees), and the other buys it (employers). Considering these defining features of capitalism, it is appropriate to state that, in most cases, the relations between them are characterizes with the violation of environmental sustainability. While capitalism is believed to be caused by people’s greed, in fact, it is rather a matter of competition, or modern variation of Darwin’s survival of the fittest. Nevertheless, the controversy is that ‘the fittest’ endanger own survival by harming the natural habitat and overusing the natural resources. Therefore, the necessity to make capitalistic markets become more eco-friendly is a vital task for the mankind. Whereas, many people consider capitalism to be incompatible with environmental sustainability, this paper will argue that capitalistic markets can become eco-friendly.
To begin with, one should refer to the first defining feature of capitalism that is the availability of resources. In the old-fashion meaning, resources, such as land, water, minerals, as well as workers are not infinite. Simply put, if capitalism is viewed as the wheel that converts resources into capital, and the resources are poorly or even non-renewable, one day it is doomed to die. Aligning this idea to the environmental exhaustion that is stipulated by economic globalization (triggered by capitalism), it is appropriate to presume that capitalist markets and environmental sustainability are not compatible. Moreover, in a long-run perspective, these phenomena can not co-exist because the need to compete encourages growing capital, which is done through the use of resources.
Nevertheless, today’s technological innovations suggest that the tomorrow’s society will be less dependent on natural and even human resources. Consider the case, the development of the artificial intelligence, nanotechnologies, bioengineering and other aspects of modern science imply that, in the future, less resources will be required for market relations. Therefore, the death of capitalist markets is not the only possible perspective. Moreover, the incompliance between capitalism and environmental sustainability is preventable. To succeed with this task people should change the sort of resources.
Apart from replacing natural resources with the means provided by contemporary science, one should consider that environmental sustainability requires limiting the level of pollution. The fact is that, capitalist markets do not consist only of tangible goods, but also include services. In this regard, it is important to admit that today’s transition from industrial to innovative economy assumes the further development of the service industry. Consequently, the eviromental pollution can be caused not only by the process of manufacturing but also by customers while they use certain services. This insight is important because it resonates with the idea that businesses are only partially responsible for maintaining environmental sustainability. Apart from businesses, the capitalistic world also includes customers that involuntary or not may create more pollution then necessary. Therefore, meanwhile, the state creates the necessary freedom for an independent economic development of the private sector; it can anticipate the negative implications of capitalist markets. It can be done by improving ecological education of the citizens and encouraging the evolvement of eco-friendliness as a part of national identity. In this way, the capitalistic state may significantly increase the general level of environmental sustainability.
Moreover, the possible compliance between the environmental sustainability and capitalist markets can be proven by referring to the employers’ and workers’ interaction. As it is known, the capitalistic world welcomes challenging environment that presumes development through competing with rivals. This process results in the survival of the most sustainable. Thus, to increase financial sustainability businesses strive to locate their manufacturing in the developing states that possess the abundance of the cheap workforce. It is not surprising that in such situation people are often put in the environmentally dangerous conditions, or are encouraged to act unethically by polluting the nature. This complex issue suggests that in capitalist markets due to competition both employees and their bosses are doomed to violate environmental sustainability in order to save/obtain profits. Nevertheless, it does not mean that environmental sustainability is incompatible with the capitalistic relations. Instead, it implies that the nature of these relations should be changed. Specifically, the tension of rivalry should be addressed and tamed.
To succeed with this goal, many businesses have already applied to the creative approaches that become the fundament for so-called blue ocean strategies. As it is known, blue ocean zones are free from competition, but successfully co-exist with the capitalistic markets through integrating diverse business within one industry or even combining various industries. The absence of rivalry assumes that the worker/employer relations can be more ethical and philanthropic. As a result, this approach enables conducting business in accordance with environmental sustainability.
Furthermore, viewing the discussed controversy from the perspective of public versus private ownership, it is appropriate to state that even though the limited control over property enlarges the likelihood of environmentally unsustainable performance, this issue can be anticipated. In fact, private ownership suggests the lessened governmental control, but the public control is strengthened under such circumstances. For instance, if a company poisons a river during the process of manufacture, it is likely to go bankrupt because of the negative reputation. In this way, the owners are controlled by their communities and, thus, the probability to succeed in business without adhering to environmental sustainability lessens year by year. In addition, the strengthening connection between the reputation of environmentally sustainable company and its revenue increases the interests of shareholders. Consider the case, being eco-friendly facilitates finding investors. Besides, the strengthening accountability towards shareholders presumes that the investors’ control will encourage businesses to maintain environmental sustainability in order not to compromise the prosperity. Presuming that these trends will continue to strengthen, it is natural to conclude that capitalistic markets will be able to co-exist with the environmental sustainability.
Summing up the above-mentioned, one should emphasize that today’s capitalist markets are not compatible with the concept of environmental sustainability. The main reason of such incompliance is the core process of capital growth that presumes converting natural resources into capital in the conditions of their slow (or none) renewal. Furthermore, the capitalist world is known for the high level of competition, which also contributes to saving financial sustainability for any costs including the unreasonable use of resources. Nevertheless, the recent tendencies display the optimistic perspectives that imply the plausibility to combine capitalism with environmental sustainability. To succeed with this task, one should remember about the three major characteristics of capitalism: private property, availability of resources, and the sale of labour. Each of these defining features can be addressed by the following approaches. Firstly, the performance of the owners is (and will be) monitored by stakeholders (investors, communities, customers), which should ensure the company’s adherence to environmental sustainability. Secondly, the irrational input of resources can (and must be) replaced by the innovative technologies. Thirdly, the sale of labour that often presumes unethical working conditions can be modified and improved by applying to blue ocean strategies. These approaches will help achieving compatibility for the capitalism and environmental ethics.